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Testimonies that Palestinian Prisoners Are Tortured

A human rights group confirmed on April 1, 1992, that the Israelis have allowed security services to routinely practice torture against Palestinian prisoners. The group, called the "Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories" known as B'tselem, said violence and ill treatment have become an expected part of interrogations.

The group issued a report about the inhuman situations of Palestinian prisoners in the occupied territories. The report estimated at least 5,000 prisoners out of 25,000 jailed last year, have been tortured. The percentage is certainly higher.

Professor Stanley Cohen, of Hebrew University, admitted that: "Nothing has been done to suggest that there is a commitment to end these practices." Professor Cohen confirmed that official investigations into torture made by B'tselem group last year did not produce any changes in the interrogation methods, which violate international human rights agreements.

He asserted the Israeli authorities use the language of legality and democracy to anaesthetize the people into thinking that something is being done. He said mistreatment during interrogations have become routine and expected.

Cohen reiterated B'tselem was most concerned that nothing shows commitment to put an end to these practices. He cited the case of Mustafa Akawi who was subjected to routine interrogation including hours with a sack over his head, shackles on his ankles, detention in a small cell and denial of legal counsel.

B'tselem based its report on interviews with 49 Palestinians who have been in Israeli prisons during the past year. It said most prisoners complained of ill treatment.

The group also said the Shin Bet continued to operate with the same level of violence as in the past.

Researchers said the secret police and army continued to beat Palestinian prisoners, hold them hooded in painful positions for prolonged periods and deprived them of sleep, threats and long periods of confinement in small cells, tying prisoners up in extremely painful positions and several beatings on all parts of the body with fists, sticks and other instruments. There have also been reports of using electric shocks.

Meanwhile the Israeli army acknowledged that about 7,457 Palestinians are in custody now. B'tselem said 7 prisoners have died during interrogations.

Another human rights group admitted on April 13 that Israeli authorities permitted the general security forces, known as the Shin Bet, to torture Palestinians. The group, known as the "Public Committee Against Torture" confirmed that the Shin Bet resorted to physical torture and psychological pressure against detained Palestinians as allowed by the 1987 Landau Commission. The group asserted that the commission guidelines have been turned into a permit to torture in the occupied territories.

The head of the Shin Bet, on his part, acknowledged that the number of detained Palestinians have doubled during the last 4 years of the uprising and that his men could not operate efficiently without the Landau guidelines, i.e. resorting to torture.

On the other hand, London based Amnesty International issued a similar report in July, 1991, confirming that Israel routinely resorts to torture and mistreatment of Palestinian detainees.

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